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And now the other side of the coin. This week seemed to be all about definitions. And in some ways, it was an answer to the flurry of episode one: Noah’s movements and activities in the city showing someone who isn’t a part of that life anymore, and Helen’s sadness around the shattered life she has mirrors Alison’s movements and activities in the idyllic small town showing someone who’s not sure where they belong right now, and Cole’s sadness about the life he has now that he can’t bear to live with.
Where last week we saw Noah’s life largely getting started from the affair—”finding his muse,” getting a book deal, feeling in control—we see Allie’s life has taken a sharp right, if not halted, because of the same events. And now she’s unsure of her place in the world. She’s not sure where she is with Cole, who she is without work, where she is (or where she’ll be) with Noah, and who she’ll be on the pages of the book he left on the desk.
What’s nice is the way all four chapters seem to build on each other; how each character sees themselves, others, and their relationships. We know how shitty Noah’s day made him feel, and we know how Helen saw him bringing that on himself a lot too. But now we see that Allie’s perspective somewhat aligns with Helen’s (Noah’s a jerrrrrrk when he’s cranky) while also seeing that he didn’t remember the fight because the life in that cottage and resolution of the night made it so inconsequential to him. He feels confused and worried, she feels confused and trapped.
But neither of them seem to feel very sad about their decisions, unlike Helen and Cole. Like Allie we see him struggling with children and the cloud of death that their minds associate with kids, but for him the pain is magnified. Joshua Jackson is really good at looking schlubby and utterly worn down here, which is good because apparently Cole is just burning out. All he wants to do is drive, drive, drive, which is really a whole new look for him. Before he was exactly where he always wanted to be and always would be. Now he just wants to be on the move.
Right now, like Helen, he is mostly in “sad” and “transitory/unknown” part of his post-divorce life, but given that this is the first we’ve seen of him since his outburst at the end of season one, Jackson does a great job channeling all that unhappiness that’s burning inside of him without an outlet. Selling that much of a pendulum swing in a person whose point-of-view is suddenly thrust into the spotlight isn’t an easy task. Jackson doesn’t have as much to do with the character here as Maura Tierney did with Helen last week (at least for now) but he does sell that Cole would see himself as sympathetic.
Again the show seems to be doubling down on the shockingly different memories of Alison and Cole’s meeting, but I guess it makes it easier to see how they’re played (and remembered) emotionally. Something about Alison’s headspace has always seemed a bit more authentic and grounded to me. Not because her views are correct or even the most honest, but the feeling behind them is so much more real, for lack of a better term. Something about the harshness of the second interaction with Noah versus the sweetness of the first seems like a genuine way to remember the events of the day, or at least the emotional current running underneath it all. Oddly enough their life—though clearly undefined—felt like each had an established sense of trust towards the other: Noah leaves his book out in plain sight, even though he expects Allie not to read it. She remembers the whole range of emotions he made her feel that day, and ends her side on a happy note.
But as all our players converge in the future in court, no one’s perspective seems to shed much light on their emotions or expectations of the situation. Alison is a bit jarred by the new lawyer (oh Richard Schriff, you delightful douchenozzle-player) and Helen’s involvement, while Cole’s face in courtroom is observant and largely inscrutable. Now that this story is building in the future more, not just being used to draw out the memories of the couple, I’d like to see a bit more happening here, but I guess that’s just down the road.
- House pooooooooorn
- Doesn’t really seem like Cole knows what to make of the situation either
- Alison, with baby what’s-her-name in court, doesn’t seem too thrown by Noah’s fate. But as we’ve seen Alison and Noah seem to have something they’re not sharing.
- Alison’s day vacillates between an established couple and a formerly established couple, before ending with Noah and her: a sort-of established couple, except maybe not officially.
- Her memory of the reconcilatory dinner seemed to be post-sundown, whereas Noah’s was distinctly before. Hmmmmmm.
- With Helen’s dad moving to leave her mom, this family is just getting REKT by divorce.
- The carride with Helen’s dad and Cole was very interesting; the ways they’re able to connect but also being in distinctly different vantage points of the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if Cole knew the situation? He seemed to have a look at the end, and was curious about the “son-in-law” in particular. Maybe I’m just terrible at reading Joshua Jackson.
- This show has me ogling at ring fingers. Hello babysitter -Cole.